Bangladesh is on the way to becoming a trillion-dollar economy by 2040 as revealed by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). This speaks of Bangladesh's continued robust growth for over a decade, coupled with the government's pursuit of investment and employment generation. Being a growing market with a strategic geographic position, Bangladesh is sure to benefit from its growing middle-income group.
Currently, Bangladesh is a $416-billion economy. BCG predicts Bangladesh's middle and affluent class will reach a volume of 34 million people by 2025 from the 19 million of 2020, thus propelling the growth.
Such an economic growth as predicted will mean many roaring benefits for the country. We may expect the overall standard of living to go up, which will also mean improved development outcomes, like the rising Human Development Index (HDI). There would be more job creation that will drive unemployment levels down. From a fiscal standpoint, a trillion-dollar economy will ensure the government's coffers are filling up with tax revenues, leading to savings in unemployment benefits as more people are employed. As the country improves on infrastructure and business-friendly environment, one can expect Bangladesh to draw more investment from abroad. It would indeed be a sought-after scenario.
Undoubtedly, emerging into a trillion-dollar economy will be good for Bangladesh. To reach that stage and not derail off course will require proper planning and strategising. The country will have to manage on many fronts. For starters, there could not be any liquidity challenge. Sure, cash can propel the economy, so the government would have to ensure that liquidity never becomes an issue. Also, reaching the trillion-dollar mark could mean inflation. The inflationary pressure will have to be countered as growth will mean less if more people find the general price levels going out of hands.
Finally, it has happened many a time that a continued growth surge has led to benefits being confined to only a selected few. That would defeat the purpose of the trillion-dollar economy-everyone must be benefitted. The government will have to be wary of lopsided growths and do everything to counter this.
The pathway to a trillion-dollar economy will involve investing in the right capital and infrastructure. The government is already working towards lowering the cost of doing business and improving the ease of doing business in the country. These effects will not manifest overnight, but through continued actions, a few years of dedication can make a vast difference in how improved Bangladesh becomes in terms of business-friendly policies and laws and their implementations. Policies to foster innovation and productivity will have to be embraced as those will allow the major leaps in growth.
A shift towards a trillion-dollar economy will require us to move away from our overdependence on RMG as the major export earner and also promote other sectors. It would also need to promote our informal sector and ensure optimal formalisation, which will offer many inherent benefits to the workers.
Finally, the reliance on public and private sector collaborations will still hold value for many future projects. A trillion-dollar economy is not something that will land on us out of nowhere: it has to be achieved. Immense amount of work will be required to reach that point. In this age of due diligence, environmental awareness, intellectual property rights (IPR), and the SDGs, we have multiple areas to focus on.
Concentrating on one area should not mean losing touch with the big picture: Bangladesh will have to grow to a level from where positive effects trickle down on every member of the society. The government will work, and both workers and employers will contribute towards achieving the common goals. When properly planned and adequately implemented, a trillion-dollar economy can certainly be achieved. May the citizens work together towards the achievement of the goal and succeed in their pursuit.
The piece originally published as the editorial of Chamber News (January, 2023), a monthly flagship publication of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dhaka (www.mccibd.org).